Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trevor Noah and Tomi Lahren

You may have heard about this recent interview/discussion/confrontation between conservative media personality Tomi Lahren and Daily Show host Trevor Noah. Using both logic and gentle ridicule where appropriate Noah shot down most of Lahren's talking points. Although I think it's unlikely that Tomi Lahren will change her mind on anything anytime soon I think it's also important to engage and confront people who make bad arguments. One of the things which the right has done much more successfully than the left is to use telegenic seemingly friendly media spokeswomen and spokesmen to sell repulsive ideas. It's true that some of these people are indeed beyond redemption or aren't worth engaging because all they want to do is insult people. Debating your own humanity is a sucker's game. But sometimes people can be too quick to scream in outrage and cease debate when faced with ideas that challenge their mindset. This can be tempting; it's sometimes morally justified. There is no such thing as reasoned debate with a dedicated Nazi or someone who thinks slavery was a positive good. That person has made his decision. But to the extent that plenty of people on the right don't fall into those categories but still ascribe to "deplorable" ideas, as Hillary Clinton might put it, it is important for people on the other end of the political spectrum to engage in spirited debate and show people how and where they are wrong. Lies that go unchallenged can spread more quickly than one might think.

People, no matter their political beliefs, should not be able to get away with making stupid comparisons based on facile analysis. The Jewish Defense League is not the same as the SS. A man using violence to free himself from slavery is not the same as a man using violence to keep other men in slavery. And the Black Lives Matter movement is not the same as the KKK. There ought to be better understanding about what the KKK wants, their past and their ideology. Black Lives Matter is a decentralized reformist movement that wants police officers to stop wrongfully harassing, beating or killing black citizens. The KKK is an organization whose very reason for being was to harass, beat or kill black citizens. So despite what Lahren thinks, these things aren't the same. Obviously both Noah and Lahren benefit from the buzz around this but I thought it was interesting comparing Noah's generally calm mien with that of Roland Martin, who when recently debating someone similar, let his hostility and emotion get in the way of the points he was trying to make. Watch the video below.

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